Dec 5, 2008

World - CIA analyst debunks Pakistani claim on LeT

Washington: Picking holes in Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s claim that Mumbai terror strike was executed by “non-state actors”, a veteran CIA analyst says Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e- Taiba(LeT) blamed for the unprecedented attack has links with Pakistan’s ISI.

“If there’s anything that is a 64 million dollar question today,” it is finding out the “extent of its [LeT] current ties to the Pakistani intelligence service [ISI],” said Bruce Riedel at a discussion hosted by Brookings Institution on “Mumbai Terrorist Attacks: A Challenge for India and the World.”

Contesting the Pakistani government’s denials that its intelligence agency has no links to LeT, Mr. Riedel said it was difficult to believe the Pakistani government’s assertions “given the size of its [LeT] activities in Pakistan.”

The Mumbai terror plot was carried out by “professionals, who were trained by professionals who were given a professional plan,” said Mr. Riedel. There was clearly considerable planning involved over a protracted period of time and that the attacks “were not a plot by amateurs or by a pick-up group.”

“This was an extraordinarily sophisticated and complex plot that had numerous moving parts and which was executed with — one has to admit — a tremendous amount of skill by very well trained terrorists,” said Mr. Riedel. He said the Mumbai attack was the most significant terrorist incident since 9/11,” and that in many ways, was akin to 9/11 “in the training and the execution.”

Mr. Riedel, an adviser on foreign policy to the campaign of Barrack Obama, said it is for certain they were influenced by the Al-Qaeda ideology. — PTI

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